Georgetown Rec Center basketball courts at Volta Park – Washington DC
Image by Tim Evanson
Looking north at the basketball courts on the east side of Volta Park in Washington, D.C., in the United States.
Volta Park was created in 1909 on top of the Prebyterian Burying Ground. (Some 2,000 bodies remain there.) The park was created at a time when there was a national movement to create playgrounds and parks in cities throughout the United States in the belief that "cities were bad for you" and "you needed to commune with nature in order for democratic values to be instilled in you".
The city paid ,000 (7,000 in 2014 dollars) for the land and another ,000 (1,2500 for playground equipment. A 2,441-square-foot recreation center with small swimming pool was built there in 1949, and in 1979 two basketball courts and two tennis courts were added.
By 1990, Volta Park was a run-down piece of crap. The pool was cracked and empty, the basketball and tennis court surfaces were broken and weeds grew in the cracks, most of the grass had turned to dirt, the lawns were full of rocks, trash, old tires, scrap metal, and debris. The city had no staff assigged to the park, and no funds to maintain it. Local residents began picking up trash there each Monday evening (20 to 30 bags of trash each week!!!).
In 1995, the Friends of Volta Park was formed to take care of the park. They formed a ,000 plan to renovate the park, and local resident Wendy Chapman gave them ,000! Sally and Stewart Davison (who the restaurant "1789"), Patsy Guyer (former Hill staffer), Diane Salisbury (a former Foreign Service officer), Charlie Rackley ( a physician), and others donated significant funds. FVP managed to get the city to approve a plan under which FVP landscapes the park, planted new gardens, installed a new irrigation system, improved the playground, and replaced the chain-link fencing with ornamental fences. FVP continues to be responsible for all landscape maintenance at the park.
In 2004, the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) rebuilt the rec center for about 0,000.
In July 2013, a playground opened in the park. The playground features a jungle gym, rope ladder, sandbox, plastic climber with an attached slide and see saw, and a PebbleFlex surface (a soft artificial surface that protects kids from injuries). DPR paid 0,000 to demolish the old playground, install equipment, purchase a new swing set, buy the PebbleFlex surface, buy benches, and buy a new sandbox. FVP spent ,000 to buy the jungle gym, rope ladder, and plastic climber.